It’s 4:08 p.m., and I just finished shaving and getting dressed for the day. (Why not just stay in my pajamas, you might be asking? Well, because I have a student coming later on for a tutoring session…)
It all started earlier today, when I woke up a little past nine to start getting ready for my regularly-scheduled Monday morning physical therapy appointment. I got from my bed to the bathtub without any major problems, but as I sat there soaking in the hot water, the severity of my situation started settling in. I tried humoring myself, as I tried to imagine what new phrase I could use to describe how I was feeling.
And this is what I came up with:
People often refer to waking up, taking a bath, and getting dressed as starting their day. When you live with rheumatoid arthritis, sometimes this is your day.
As I continued sitting there in the tub (wondering how I’d even get back up on my own), I decided I needed to take some items off my to-do list, all in the hopes of figuring out how I’d have enough strength to make it to my physical therapist’s office within the hour. First, I decided not to brush my teeth. Then, I took shaving off my list…after all, what’s the problem with having a little stubble, I thought to myself. It was at this point that I finally realized the futility of such a line of thinking: if I couldn’t even groom myself, I certainly wouldn’t be able to get dressed, get in a taxi, and walk the distance required to get to PT.
So as I finished my bath and made my way back to bed (apparently drying myself was another item I took of my list–without even knowing as much–as my partner nervously grabbing some towels and tried to pat me down before I hit the sheets), I announced that I would not be going to physical therapy. I was a little down about the fact that I couldn’t even make it to PT, but I knew that the decision I was making was the right one.
My partner made the call, cancelling the session. Ten minutes later, just as my tears were going to start rolling as I envisioned another morning stuck in bed, my physical therapist called. She was on her way to my house, and would be at my front door in ten minutes. She arrived just as she said, and then spent the next hour and a half administering some of my favorite treatments (ultrasound) in the comfort of my own bed. When she left I was still in a lot of pain, but I was just a tad bit better. I was wrapped with heating pads, microwave wraps, and blankets, and was told to stay in bed for the next few hours.
Which is exactly what I did. And by the time late-afternoon rolled around, I was once again moving around with much more ease. I jumped back into the tub and took another bath, performed my usual grooming session when I got out, and changed into “regular” clothes.
I’m not pushing myself too hard. I’m sitting at my desk, and hope to be here for at least the next couple of hours. Then, it’ll be time to do everything in reverse. I’ll get back into my pajamas, get back into bed, and spend the rest of my awake hours reading and doing some other work on my laptop computer, maybe watch a little television.
All in all, it took me about seven hours from start to finish to complete the “start” to my day, and as I thought earlier on, doing so was indeed a large part of my day. Days like today used to make me sad, and I’d get depressed. Now, I find a lot of comfort in figuring out how I can still do different things, even when simple tasks such as brushing my teeth and shaving my face were outside of my realm of possibility only a few hours back.
It used to be that when my mornings were as rough as the one I had today, I would completely write off the rest of my day. I now know that this need not be the case. Sure, I still have to take care of myself, and take things slowly…but I can still continue to move forward, even if it takes a little (or a lot!) longer than usual.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!